Canada must support US trial of Omar Khadr & reject refugee status for Gitmo ex-detainees sign now

Open letter from Canadians to the Prime Minister of Canada

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Email: [email protected]

February 2009


Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Western countries such as Britain, Spain and the United States have suffered the barbaric killing and maiming of innocent civilians at the hands of people living within their borders who were linked to Islamist terror. Terror-linked individuals have cost Western nations immensely, both in terms of human suffering and diminished personal freedom. Any government that claims to defend the security and freedoms of Canadians is duty-bound not to take steps that potentially increase this threat of terror while offering no demonstrated benefit to the vast majority of Canadians.

Yet, Canadians are now facing the prospect that the lobbying of Muslim and Arab groups and their enablers will result in the return to Canada of alleged terrorist Omar Khadr now held in Guantanamo Bay by United States authorities. In addition, Canadians are faced with the very real possibility that individuals who have no connection to Canada, including several Chinese Uighur Muslims in Guantanamo Bay, will be granted refugee status in Canada because of the risks they may face if returned to China. There are many potential refugees who have never been associated with Islamist terror and who were not apprehended while operating at the pleasure of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. These people have a much greater claim to Canadian refugee status than these Guantanamo detainees.

With dozens of former Guantanamo detainees returning to terror upon their release, the Stephen Harper government must not expose Canadians to the risks and costs of increased Islamist terror in Canada. Where the rights of a refugee applicant conflict with the right of ordinary Canadians to live free of terror, it is the security of Canadians that must come first.

With this in mind, the signatories below hereby request that the Government of Canada abstain from any intervention in the course of the United States' prosecution of Mr. Omar Khadr and to deny refugee status to any detainees who are released from Guantanamo Bay.

Background on Omar Khadr:

Islamic extremist members of Canada's notorious Khadr "First Family of Terror" are pressing Canada's Government to call for the United States to release family member Omar Khadr from US custody, and to return him to Canada. Soon after 9/11, Khadr was arrested along with terrorist forces on an Afghan battlefield, and is charged by American authorities with the unlawful killing of a young American soldier, and the maiming of another. He is awaiting trial at the military prison at Guatanamo Bay.

Dr. Daniel Pipes, author and expert on counterterrorism, provides a summary of the Khadr family's long history of involvement with Islamist terror:

- Patriarch Ahmad Said al-Khadr met Osama bin Laden in 1985, funneled Canadian taxpayer moneys to him, eventually moving his entire family to Afghanistan to join him, dying in an October 2003 shoot-out with Pakistani forces.

- Wife Maha Elsamnah took her then-14-year-old son Omar from Canada to Pakistan in 2001 and enrolled him for Al-Qaeda training.

- Daughter Zaynab, 23, was engaged to one terrorist and married, with Osama bin Laden himself present at the nuptials, a Qaeda member in 1999. Zaynab endorses the 9/11 atrocities and hopes her infant daughter will die fighting Americans.

- Son Abdullah, 22, is a Qaeda fugitive constantly on the move to elude capture. Canadian intelligence states he ran a Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan during the Taliban period, something Abdullah denies.

- Son Abdurahman, 21, reluctantly trained with Al-Qaeda, was captured by coalition forces in November 2001 and agreed to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in Kabul, Guantanamo, and Bosnia. He returned to Canada in October 2003, where he denounced both extremism ("I want to be a good, strong, civilized, peaceful Muslim") and his family's terroristic ways.

- Son Omar, 17, stands accused of hurling a grenade in July 2002, killing a U.S. medic in Afghanistan. Omar lost sight in one eye in the fighting and is now a U.S. detainee in Guantanamo.

- Son Abdul Karim, 14, half-paralyzed by wounds sustained in the October 2003 shoot-out that left his father dead, is presently prisoner in a Pakistani hospital.

In February 2009, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) launched an initiative in support of Khadr's freedom. CAIR-CAN is the Canadian chapter of a US organization designated an "unindicted co-conspirator" by the US Department of Justice in the Holy Land Foundation terror trial in which all defendants were found guilty of enabling Islamist terror. CAIR-CAN also refuses to condemn by name such terrorist enterprises as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

CAIR-CAN's Khadr campaign produced a highly-publicized letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, calling on Mr. Harper to press US authorities for Khadr's release. The letter was signed by major Islamic organizations such as the Canadian Arab Federation, the Canadian Muslim Civil Liberties Association, and Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association. Apparently unaware of the nature of some of these groups, a variety of other people and organizations have signed and associated themselves with this letter, including Mr. Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International (English Section), an organization whose public funding, through its federal tax-free charitable status, is at odds with this highly political initiative. Together, the letter's signatories seem to claim that Mr. Khadr should be freed and taken in by Canada, on the grounds that Khadr (1) is a Canadian citizen, (2) was fifteen years old at the time of his arrest, (3) could not get a fair trial in the US and (4) should be tried in Canada.

These claims are misleading. Neither Canadian nor any other citizenship grants immunity from prosecution abroad for terrorism, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Neither is there a bar in international law to prosecuting war criminals who may have been as young as fifteen at the time of alleged offences. As for the issue of fairness in the expected US prosecution, the American Government has made changes in trial proceedings in order to remedy procedural weaknesses identified by the US Supreme Court. Contrary to claims made by radical Islamists and their mistaken supporters - including activist professors - these changes are expected to ensure that Mr. Khadr's trial will be consistent with American constitutional requirements. Moreover, as in any other criminal trial in the US and Canada, court proceedings involving Mr. Khadr will continue to be subject to supervision by higher courts. As for a trial in Canada, this prospect is speculative and doubtful, given that the victims of the crime for which Omar Khadr is charged are American and US security forces have had had the entire chain of custody both of Khadr and the evidence against him from apprehension to trial.

Canadians would not permit a foreign country to dictate the release of an alleged criminal killer of one of its soldiers, from Canada's justice system. Likewise, Americans have the right to complete, without Canadian or other foreign interference, the prosecution in their country of Mr. Khadr or any other person charged with murder. Canadians should therefore expect their Government to stand up to radical Islamists and their misguided associates. In particular, the Government of Canada must stand fast, and avoid any behaviour that could be construed as interference in our neighbour's legal system and sovereign constitutional right to protect itself. To do otherwise would set a dangerous international precedent that could later invite foreign interference in Canada's own judicial system. As an insult to the American constitutional order, interference could rebound on Canada's genuine interest in positive, productive bilateral Canada-US relations.

Background on refugee claims by Uighur Chinese in Guantanamo Bay:

Three members belonging to the Uighur minority of China held at Guantanamo Bay have filed for refugee status in Canada through their Canadian lawyers. These individuals are from a group of 17 Uighurs captured in Afghanistan.

These individuals have no connection to Canada, and while they have not been convicted of specific terrorist crimes, there is no compelling reason why Canada should be the country of choice for their refugee applications. As citizens of China apprehended in Afghanistan, they would normally be returned to China or Afghanistan. China's dismal human rights record has made the US authorities hesitant to pursue this option, and returning them to Afghanistan may endanger the lives of Canadian and US soldiers. Canadian civilians deserve the same protection as our men and women in uniform, and our government must not undermine our collective security to appease a handful of Canadian advocates who seek the granting of refugee status and taxpayer support for these individuals.

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Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada


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